Shopping local is good for the soul

This is a guest post by Brad Howard of Clever Mink’s, a great little gift shop at 711 Carnarvon St. If you’ve got an idea for a guest post, go ahead and drop us a line

Having never blogged before I found the idea daunting so I sought out some friends’ opinions. Some said you’ve got to open big to grab the reader. You’ve only got 4.3 seconds of their attention (that might be last year’s figure, this year’s is doubtlessly shorter) or they’ll move on to something splashier. Make ’em laugh or make ’em cry. Talk about how to get crazy good sex or how to lose weight in an hour or about how to find inner peace but in a really fun and exciting way.

Others suggested it would be better for me to start small but be authoritative by sticking to a narrow topic that I know extremely well. Cleaning out a cat box comes to mind as does muttering to myself when stuck in traffic. Hard to imagine though, how either of those will stoke the fires of passion and controversy that fuel this strange critter known as the blogosphere. Even the word “blogosphere” seems a bit foreign to me, rolling awkwardly off my tongue like when I try to work rechereche into a conversation.

I am non-digerati, growing up in a time when computers were only seen on TV shows where they always occupied an entire room, were covered in rapidly spinning spools for some reason, and were often at work in some nefarious world-threatening plot. Or sometimes they were saving the world from said plot but suffice to say there was generally a plot involved. Cut to the present and the whole computer thing turned out to be more about letting a bunch of regular people express their thoughts and try to be interesting doing it. I’m not sure I’m up to that.

Clever Mink’s is a gift shop with a funny name and, like as not, you’ve never heard of us. The fault for that is on us, of course, with our marketing plan that relied perhaps too heavily on mental telepathy and optimism. Nevertheless, we do exist and we do most of our existing right here in New West. Proudly so, not only as new business owners and residents in town but as new immigrants to this country.

We left the States, Bush refugees we have been called and worse, a tad over a year ago to venture into this lush green (sometimes white) land of yours with a plan firmly in mind to try to do something fun. And fun it has been, as only the commitment of a good chunk of one’s savings into a strange new business during the most perilous of economic times can be fun. Other words leap to mind as well but fun is really the pick of that litter.

We decided to open our humble establishment during the dead of summer and on a street, we only subsequently learned, that had a city-wide reputation as being a great place to avoid ever going. Luckily for us our new neighbors at The Hideout Cafe, Shamryn’s Hobby Shop, Queen’s Park Florist, and the many others hereabout have welcomed us warmly and made us feel at home in this spot. Best of all have been our great customers, those stalwart few who’ve bucked the area’s bad rep and actually managed to find us and have begun to spread the word about us far better than we ever could do ourselves. A big shout-out and thanks to you all.

Now I can’t say as it’ll improve your sex life or help you lose weight or give you that exciting version of inner peace you’ve been looking for, but shopping local stores is good for the soul, no doubt about it. And good for the town.

It may be an old idea but a town needs to be more than a mere collection of homes where working people rest their heads. Any town worthy of its name, especially one that possesses the rich history and character that ours does, needs its shops and markets, pubs, eateries, theatres and galleries in order to remain vibrant and liveable.

We like to think that someday soon all of us will look back at 2008 as the beginning of a renaissance in the downtown core, the time when New West decided to reclaim its place as the jewel on the banks of the Fraser river. But then we have to be optimists- we’re business owners. Happy Holidays to all.

Come visit us at 711 Carnarvon St. or online at

Ask for Nancy or her sidekick Brad.

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2 Replies to “Shopping local is good for the soul”

  1. Thanks brad and nancy for an awesome first guest post! Nice writing, well said – and we love to generate new affectionate (and optimistic) titles for NW – including the "Jewel of the Fraser" as you said.

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